Updated: Mar 3, 2020
Procrastination is my best frenemy.
Case in point, when I was asked to write a blog post on procrastination, this is what I did instead: watched The Nightmare Before Christmas, played a computer game, listened to music, read Facebook posts, watched YouTube videos, read the news, took a nap, updated some of my Etsy shop listings, listened to more music, played with my Cat, went for a walk, ate some food, watched The Good Place, researched some hotels on TripAdvisor, took another nap, and … eventually, I got to this point. I probably would continue to waste time for a bit longer, but there’s a nagging voice in my head that says I need to get this done. So, here we are.
This is pretty much how things go for me on a daily basis. I’m usually the last one to get ready, to go anywhere. I have a lot of listings I need to add (or update) on Etsy. My general attitude is “I’ll get around to it, eventually.” And eventually, I do get around to doing things. But the “eventually” part is the problem. It makes me wonder what I could’ve accomplished earlier in life, if I didn’t keep putting things off. This includes going to college, travelling more, and writing.
I am very guilty of procrastinating when it comes to writing. It’s typically a feeling of “I should write more often,” but I don’t. I listen to my music, go for walks, watch movies, take naps, and watch life pass me by. I see others become more successful in their careers—as writers, artists, musicians, and so forth—and it’s because they don’t procrastinate. They just keep on working. Every single day, they create something. Whether it’s a hundred words on a page, a quick sketch for a painting, or the intro for a song, it’s at least something.
However, I lack that kind of work ethic and if you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you struggle with procrastination, too. So, what does help me? Deadlines. With college coursework, if homework isn’t turned in by the deadline, I fail the assignment. With my freelance job, if the website isn’t updated by the deadline, I could lose my job. During the Writer’s Games, if stories aren’t submitted by an Event’s deadline, they don’t qualify for that Event.
My advice to you is to set yourself deadlines—strict deadlines—and stick to them. Take the big writing event from last month as an example: NaNoWriMo. If you participated (or even just considered it), but you struggle with procrastination, it's best to give yourself deadlines. If the goal is to write 50,000 words by the end of the month, break that down into smaller parts so the overall goal is less intimidating. Try setting a deadline for 2,000 words per day, or 12,500 words by the end of every week. Mark these deadlines on your calendar, set alarms on your phone as reminders, plaster your walls with sticky notes—whatever you need to do to keep that deadline in mind. If it helps, you can also implement a reward system: every time you meet a deadline, treat yourself to something you enjoy. If you miss a deadline, no treat.
What tricks do you use to help with procrastination issues?
About the Author: Heidi Marshall is a freelance writer, editor, web designer, Etsy seller, and soon-to-be college graduate with a B.A. in English. She is terminally infected with the travel bug, addicted to Neil Gaiman books, and believes Nature (yes, with a capital “N”) deserves the highest amount of respect.